A therapeutic optometrist is quite a bit different from your regular optometrist, who provides eye exams and prescribes your corrective lenses. The therapeutic optometrist actually treats diseases of the eyes, including Glaucoma, can prescribe medications and is qualified to care for you, both before and after laser eye surgery. The therapeutic optometrist is not an eye surgeon, but is considered to be a vision therapy specialist.
The therapeutic optometrist does provide regular eye exams for all types of glasses, and exams and dilation for contact lenses. They are also qualified to diagnose and treat Glaucoma, dry eye syndrome, eye allergies and some forms of eye trauma. They also diagnose and treat other disorders of the visual system and structures, and are able to diagnose other systemic diseases related to the eye.
If you would like to be treated by an eye doctor that has the licensing necessary to treat you beyond just prescribing corrective lenses, then the therapeutic optometrist may be just what you are looking for. Choosing this type of vision provider also allows you to see the same doctor for most of your eye needs except surgery, without having to be referred to an unfamiliar doctor. Some optometrists are licensed for minor procedures such as foreign body removal, injuries to the cornea, eyelid and lacrimal problems and the removal of unwanted or dangerous blemishes around the eyes.
The education requirements for a therapeutic optometrist are a four year post graduate degree program. Studies include many subjects that are also studied by medical doctors including: human anatomy, pharmacology, systemic diseases, microbiology, pathology, biochemistry, epidemiology and psychology. All of this is in addition to the extensive study of the ocular system, optics, and anatomy/physiology of the visual system.
Therapeutic optometrists are always up-to-date on the latest medical treatments and techniques in vision care. They are required, in order to maintain their licenses, to have at least 16 hours per year of continuing education. This assures that you are receiving the best possible treatment, using the latest techniques, for any eye problem.